Hey Diddle Diddle explained (NSFW)

Hey diddle diddle

The Cat and the Fiddle

The Cow jumped over the Moon

The little Dog laughed to see such sport

And the Dish ran away with the Spoon

Most everyone knows this poem, and assumes it to be a fun and frivolous nursery rhyme from our childhood. But upon doing a fair bit of research, I have discovered it might actually be a paean to female masturbation and empowerment.

Its first noted appearance in print shows up in the late sixteenth century collection entitled “Focke Ye And Th’orse Thou Rode ‘N’Upon and Other Bawdy Recytes“, which includes many risqué and bawdy poems and songs and odes whose content lay very far away from the purity and innocence of nursery rhymes.

Allow me to dig deeper into the interpretation of the lines of the poem.

Hey diddle diddle

This opening line, obviously, is a beckoning to engage in masturbation. Specifically, a beckoning to females. The word “diddle” has long been used as an euphemism for female pleasuring of oneself. (In literature, women tend to diddle while men tend to wank). In the 1548 poem “Ta Fine Ma Hoelay, Shav ma Poosay” by LawRence Benjamin, the speaker – a female heroine (uncharacteristically for the time) – emphatically urges women of all classes to diddle, or masturbate, with the line “Laydees auf all strypes, pull up thyne skorts and diddle thyne quim.” (There are some who say LawRence Benjamin was in fact a woman disguised as a man, in order to pursue her love of writing.)

So, in fact, the first line of this poem can be seen to be saying to women, specifically, “Come along, masturbate and masturbate some more!”

The Cat and the Fiddle

Since even before the rule of Cleopatra, the cat has been a symbol of female sexuality. It is believed the slang term “pussy” (for female genitalia) in fact originates from this era’s feline obsession. In Hierotomy’s epic poem Cleve Unto That Cat (840 BC), we see both inferences as the hero opines “I nary mean to anger the cat by getting it wet, but to moisten a pussy, well, that’s the fairer goal!“.

Likewise, the verb “to fiddle” can mean to bow or rub the strings (or fingers) of one’s hand vigorously across one’s genitalia. (To “hold the fiddle” means “grab the rigid penis – like a bow”)

So far, we now have this as a translation “Come along, masturbate and masturbate some more! Rub (or play) your vaginas with vigor, women.”

The Cow jumped over the Moon

Quite simply, this is a reference to a woman achieving a female orgasm.

In much in the same way it is impossible to imagine a cow jumping over the moon, in literature (and even science) before the 20th century, it was deemed impossible to imagine a female achieving orgasm. To imply such a thing was very much frowned upon, and so the more daring writers had to create phrases of innuendo when writing about the female orgasm. Phrases such as “rhyming orange”, “waking the dead”, and “jumping the moon” are but a few.

An example of this can be seen in this excerpt from the 1894 play by Rutger Tassleman, “Look Who I Found Under The Table“, banned until 1959 for its sexual and homosexual undertones.

Madame Chivesdale: I failed to see you at the Regency soiree last evening, my dear. Are you quite alright?

Lady Quincy: Quite! I became sidetracked and lost track of the time, shall we say. Such is the way with me when I jump over the moon. And last night my cow jumped twice!

Madame Chivesdale: Oh you lucky girl! If I could do that I’d never leave my boudoire! Who needs men then!

The little Dog laughed to see such Sport

Whereas the cat became synonymous with females, the dog is likened to the male of our species. “Little Dog”, then, means little man, or penis. For a little dog to laugh means it ejaculates. And why is it ejaculating? Because it is voyeuristically and excitedly witnessing a female orgasm. Here, the word sport can also mean spurt.

And the Dish ran away with the Spoon

An attractive woman is often referred to as “a dish”. “She’s quite a dish!”

It is believed this comes from the notion that the slightly concave nature of the vagina somehow resembles other concave items, like a dish. So, when someone says “she’s quite the dish”, what it really means is “she has an attractive vagina”.

So here, the dish is an obvious reference to a woman. And the spoon reference is most likely meaning a young girl, a smaller concave vagina.

Here, though, it’s used in a quite interesting, perhaps unexpected way. Here, the dish (woman) is running away. And it is taking the spoon (daughter) with it.

Does this mean the lady of the household is leaving her husband and taking their daughter with her? Quite an act of bravery or desperation for a 16th century woman!

Is this poem, then, an early example of a plea for female empowerment? Is it imploring women to take pleasure into their own hands? To live their own lives, outside of the constraints of male-dictated society?

I can’t answer that for sure, but it surely seems certain that Hey Diddle Diddle is a bit deeper and more meaningful than we originally believed, wouldn’t you say?

Come along, masturbate and masturbate some more!

Rub your vaginas with vigor, women.

It IS possible for you to achieve orgasm!

And while your lecherous, voyeur of a husband gets off on it

Take your daughter and run away! Free yourself!

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